I’ve been reading a lot of writing by the “body-positive” (or the tryna-be-body-positive) community about what it is to be body positive. I have experience and a perspective on this topic, shaped by the times:
- When, as a child, I got comments about what I was eating, in comparison to everyone else.
- When, as a child, I had to justify why I was eating a piece of cake at a birthday party.
- When I was told that I could not wear red because of my size.
- When the word “fat” was used in reference to me, with disdain.
- When I’ve been asked if I thought I needed to lose weight.
- When I dated him, and him, and him, and they all told me how beautiful I’d be if I lost weight.
- When people questioned how hard it must have been to be me, in comparison to my skinny mother.
- When I bought a wedding dress and was told that the empire waisted gown was best, despite the obvious uni-boob.
- When I eventually bought the slim fitting fit-and-flare gown.
- When he told me that he wouldn’t marry me until I lost weight.
- When he told me that his mother told him to never bring home a fat girl.
- When he cheated.
- When I read the email he sent to the girl he cheated with, telling her that she needed to lose weight for their relationship to develop.
- When I determined that if I was not good enough for him to marry as a fat person, then he was not good enough for me, period.
- When I began using affirmations daily, like, “My body is the perfect shape. My body is beautiful.”
- When a Lane Bryant sales associate mimicked my body positive affirmations and didn’t try to sell me the ill-fitting coat.
- When he told me that he wanted to kiss my naked body all over.
- When SmartGlamour said yes to my audition.
I don’t have a dramatic, seminal story that captures my body positive story, but an array of smaller moments and happenings. Some of those could be fleshed out into a short story or two that I’ve either started to write or will write one day. But for now, let me say this:
Positivity of any sort is not about complacency. It’s not about never changing.
Positivity is about full and total acceptance of the present moment. No resistance, but a full-out embrace of the here and now.
This doesn’t mean you ignore the things that are not-good about the present moment. No.
Positivity means that you take on the “not-good” and do what you can to make the next moment different. It also requires knowing that you are the best, and you deserve nothing but the best from yourself. It also requires kindness and gentleness with yourself, if you have gotten yourself into some shit. It may require kindness and gentleness towards another, if fathomable. It demands outright honesty about whatever’s going on.
Positivity also requires that you do what you can to feel good, aware and alert in the present moment.
Given this understanding of “positivity,” then to me “body positivity” means that you accept your body as it is. Full-on, full-out, you embrace your skin and your bones as they are right-the-fuck-now.
Body positivity could mean that you do not want to change a damn thing about your body. It could also mean that you want to change something about your body for its greatest good and the greatest good for your life experience, period. Whatever it is that you do towards your body, if you are “body positive,” you are doing it out of love and respect for your body. If you work out, you work out in the kindest way possible FOR YOU. If you change your eating habits, you do it to support your body’s vitality. Recognizing the need to change something doesn’t mean you hate it.
Loving yourself is not about whether you change or not; loving yourself is about acting with the intention to support your highest vibration possible. This is going to look different for different people. Body positivity will appear amorphous to those outside of the movement to be body-positive, because there is variation. My body positivity isn’t going to be your body positivity. It’s not a one-size-fits-all joint.
For example, my body positivity requires a regular workout regimen because I feel way better (vibes much higher!) in my body when I work out regularly. My moment-to-moment experiences are better off for my regular workouts, and thus I consider regular workouts a form of self-care. It does not mean that I subject myself to the insanity that is Insanity, however, as I find it to be a lot! That being said, I know a girl who subjects herself to Shaun T and the like regularly because it’s what makes her feel good in her body. And then there are those who do not workout much, or at all, but turn-up with a poppin red lip, or what have you.
To be clear, body positivity doesn’t come with shaming. It doesn’t come with lamenting that you ate a piece of cake. It doesn’t come with resisting the number on the scale. It doesn’t come with working on a “summer body.” It, for damn sure, does not come with being acceptable only when you reach a certain size.
Body positivity is body love right-the-fuck-now: turning up on the feelings about your body, right-the-fuck now, however you can. And the more you turn-up, the easier it gets to be body positive. And the more you are body positive, the more your life will fill with joy… SO MUCH JOY.
I’ve begun to take seriously the call to be the kind of adult I needed when I was younger. And when an adult questioned me about a slice of birthday cake at a birthday party, I needed an adult to jump in and say to me:
Fuck him, eat your cake girl, and love yourself no matter what. You are beautiful, and it’s not about what they say, but it’s about what you agree with. Never ever agree with anyone who hates you. Only agree with, and say to yourself, that you are beauty, and you are love.